Art Terminology

SYMBOLISM

Late nineteenth-century movement that advocated the expression of an idea over the realistic description of the natural world. The term was coined in 1886 by French critic Jean Moréas to describe the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine. It was soon applied to visual art where the realistic depiction of the natural world, seen …

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SYNAESTHESIA

Synaesthesia (or synesthesia) is a neurological condition in which the stimulation of a sense (like touch or hearing) leads involuntarily to the triggering of another sense (like sight or taste). For example, a person with synaesthesia might see the colour blue when they hear the word ‘fish’ or, as in mirror-touch synaesthesia, they would feel …

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SYNTHETIC CUBISM

Synthetic cubism is the later phase of cubism, generally considered to run from about 1912 to 1914, characterised by simpler shapes and brighter colours. In an attempt to classify the revolutionary experiments made in cubism by Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris, historians tend to divide cubism into two stages, analytical and synthetic. Synthetic …

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SYNTHETISM

Term associated with the style of symbolic representation adopted by Paul Gauguin and his followers in the 1880s characterised by flat areas of colour and bold outlines. Rather than painting a naturalistic representation of observed reality, Paul Gauguin and his followers at Pont Aven aimed to create art that combined (or synthesised) the subject-matter with …

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SYSTEMS ART

Loosely describes a group of radical artists working in the late 1960s early 1970s who reacted against art’s traditional focus on the object with the aim of making their art more responsive to the world around them. Building on the structures of minimal art and conceptual art, the artists adopted experimental aesthetic systems across a …

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